Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The Peerage launches iPad app

One of the most useful free resources for researching the nobility is a website called The Peerage, located at The site is the work of New Zealand based Darryl Lundy, who has been compiling data for it for the last fourteen years. Bizarrely, my family actually gets a listing - my great grandfather's brother James Paton is included as the father of Reverend William Paton, my grandfather's cousin who headed the International Missionary Society some time back. Bill's daughter Elizabeth in turn married the Rev. Hugh William Montefiore in 1945, another man of the cloth, who later became the Bishop of Birmingham.

I've just been asked to review a new iPad app based on the website, although the message did not in fact mention the website at all, and so at first I had not realised that it was connected! The reason why it was not clear is that the design of the app is completely unrelated to the website's appearance. The app has a much more stark appearance. There are no comforting old books on shelves, serif based fonts, crowns, quill and ink or a man in tweed on the front page to give it that quaint look of nobility, which is a pity, as I actually find the site visually very aesthetically pleasing! Instead the app is a network of red blocks on a black background, linked by white lines to show family tree connections. Much more functional and hi-tech perhaps, but lacking some of the charm.

The home page has three basic search modes - Surnames, Location and Map - and an About button to allow you to find out more about Darryl (with two pages, FAQ and Website, taking you through to the original website). The interface screen in the search modes is very dynamic, and it is fun watching trees shooting past your finger tips as you click on each red button to consult a members' details. Unfortunately the details returned are quite limited compared to what is available on the original site, being limited to names, dates and dynamic links to red boxes for other relatives, but with no place name details returned in any entry, no additional biographical detail that is available on the site, and no source information. Nevertheless, with a thousand years of the history to deal with from around the world - not just the UK - that's still a lot of data to play with.

There are two versions of the app available, one is totally free, the other costs £1.99. The listings on iTunes do not state what the difference is, and from what I can see I suspect it is simply that the free edition carries advertising.

Will I keep it installed on my iPad? Yes, in fact I probably will. Despite it lacking much of the charm of the original website, and much of the detailed content, it does have a tree display capability that the original site itself does not have, and so it could be a very useful tool to use alongside the website - as well as acting as a handy ready reckoner for those awkward dinner table conversations where you forget which duke was married to which duchess! Despite the fact that it visually looks like the Borg may have assimilated the world's nobility, its speed and relative ease of use does more than make up for it. If there was some way for the individual box outs to either present the additional info or link directly to it on the site, I think I would see this as a much more useful interface. Nevertheless, this is still worth downloading.

The app is available as follows:

Pay version
Free version

Images from the iPad app

Screengrab from the original website

UPDATE: A wee demo vid also. With Spanish guitar - don't ask...!!!

(With thanks to The Peerage)


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